Custom Building Fabrication & Creation
Fabricating the Circus Archway
Have you ever had a dream? Kevin Venardos is manifesting dreams into reality personified. His career began as the singing ringmaster for the “Greatest Show on Earth.” As the years went by his dream continued to grow and today, he owns his own circus; The Little Circus that Could.
When I met Kevin, he was excited to know about my artistic abilities and my love for the circus. I found out about other dreams he had. As we talked, I realized something else; I was destined to be the one who helped him make his next dream become reality.
It all started when Kevin and I both worked in Lexington. His circus was performing and I was providing my pinstriping services at the Harley-Davidson store. We met for breakfast every day. While we talked about his circus, he told about one of his desires for his show; Kevin wanted a spectacular archway to support the curtain the performers pass through when they enter the ring. I am an idea guy. I had an idea. I made a sketch on a napkin during breakfast. Kevin loved my idea.
I knew how to engineer an efficient, durable and easy-to-move piece of equipment. My portable pinstriping booth is one example. I used my experience as a circus man to design something that would work for him. To save wear and tear on the decorated front, I planned for the pieces to pin together face to face for transport. Kevin wanted lights – lots of lights. Once production started, I did some research and chose special LED lights to smother this creation with.
He had channel letters to use from another source. I would use these to emblazon his name across the banner shape I included on the design. This would proclaim the name Venardos. Circus scrollwork would fill the rest of the archway. On both of the uprights, I planned the “Branding” image of Kevin’s top hat - his signature. Once the sketch was complete, I found his enthusiasm to be without containment.
The work began when I arrived home at ArtPark in Plant City at the end of my season. The project began on the floor of the shop. I laid the special overlay sheeting in an approximate configuration to make the patterns that would insure the left and right pieces were identical. Then I began to engineer the metal framework that would provide strength for this structure that would be fourteen feet tall.
I welded not only the framework together but special devices to facilitate attachment of the structure in place and also for transport. Strengthening gussets, attachment points for the curtain and struts to hold up the archway were all engineered out of steel. After all the steel was cut, welded and bolted together and everything fit, the fabrication process was complete. Then all the pieces were dismantled for paint.
Once everything was painted red the pieces were reassembled. The archway - or performers portal – was then ready to decorate. Patterns were utilized again for the decoration process to insure symmetry. The signature red color for the structure was decorated with gold scrollwork. Highlights, outlines and maroon shadows gave the illusion of dimensional features.
Since the interior of the big top was predominantly red, I selected blue for the banner background where the letters would live. The blue became the only shade of that color in the interior of the tent to promise contrast and command attention.
The channel letters were drilled to receive plenty of LED lights along with the border of the banner shape. Once hundreds of lights were installed, protective sheeting went on the back to protect the wiring.
When complete, I loaded the pieces and drove up to where the circus was playing in Saint Augustine. After an evening performance, the staff took down the old portal and we installed the new one. The sheen of the paint was found to conflict with the theatrical lighting and another step in the manufacture process was needed. I sprayed on a layer of flat urethane on all the pieces to eliminate the unwanted reflections. Kevin was pleased with the results. Ever the dreamer, now he wants me to design and build something else.
You can see the Venardos Circus at many cities all along the forty-week route they enjoy across the country. Just visit Venardoscircus.com to find out where the circus of dreams is going to be. While there, you are sure to be inspired by this dynamic man and perhaps you will begin to have new dreams of your own.
Do you have a dream?
The artist is constantly creating whether using paint, computer, pencil, the wood shop, welding bench, shop tools or sitting at his word processor authoring material to benefit his readership. When looking for a creative soul to develop your idea into working output, able to utilize any number of techniques to do so, consider the artist Letterfly.
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